January 30, 2010
The other day at work I had a request for Florentine biscuits from one of my clients. When I saw the email I thought for a minute on what to do. Do I go and buy them or make them? The only reason I thought this was because EVERY time I have made Florentines they end up dry and terrible. It's baked goods like these that have kept me out of the pastry section of kitchens for years!
I ran down to our local patisserie shop and saw their florentines and pretty well made up my mind to make them as soon as I saw them. For 80 cents you got a florentine about as big as a 20 cent piece which looked like no love was put into them at all- I just couldn't do it.
Scanning the internet for a recipe was an interesting venture, a lot of recipes with cornflakes and condensed milk (which just didn't seem right to me), looking further I found a few recipes that just sounded like all the other florentine recipes I had used to no avail. Finally I came across one on www.cooks.com
The recipe looked like it was going to be sticky (due to the fact it had honey, cream and butter in it) so I thought what the hey and got down to business. I have to tell you when I look through recipes I usually only look at the ingredients and if they seem OK I'll then buy the bits and bobs then read the method just before I begin. Quite silly really, I think is has something to do with me never really following a recipe to a T (sadly I do the same with my own recipes!). A bad habit that was just about to teach me a lesson.
You see I weighed everything out and was ready to go- put the sugar, cream etc into saucepan and on the heat before reading any further. "...boil until the candy thermometer registers 240 degrees...."
Dammit! I have always meant to buy a candy thermometer but never really got there.
What to do? They were due out within the hour and I didn't have time to buy a thermometer so I bit the bullet, through caution to the wind and trusted my instinct to not stuff up.
The recipe did state ".....or until a firm ball is formed". I waited for the 'firm ball' HA what a joke. I had a lot of bubbles but nothing looked like a firm ball to me so again I trusted my gut and took it off the heat when I thought it was best.
I am not sure if I was 100% right BUT they looked a beautiful golden brown when the almonds were thrown in and the honey, butter combo was intoxicating- I felt I did OK.
Following the rest of the recipe I was feeling pretty good until I took the trays out of the oven and found my little teaspoon sized balls had all run into each other and all that was left was a thin toffee, almond layer.
Nothing a cookie cutter couldn't fix so after getting toffee burns on 80% of my finger tips I finally had these little babies kinda looking like Florentines and the best part was they set!
Of course Sydney being Sydney the day was humid and heavy so once I brushed on some chocolate it was straight into the fridge with them.
I managed to deliver them to the client on time and held my breath that the chocolate didn't melt entirely. Of course there were left overs so the family and I have been enjoying Florentines with our cup of tea in the mid afternoon- so very civilised!
If your in the mood for a challenge then go ahead and make a batch but probably a good idea to nip out and grab a candy thermometer or blow the dust off the one you have in your bottom draw.
1/2 cup castor sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup honey
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
120g (4oz) dried fruit finely chopped (I used dates and cranberries)
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
160g (6 oz) blanched sliced almonds
3 tablespoons plain flour
1/2 cup dark chocolate buds, melted with 1 tablespoon butter
Combine sugar, cream, honey and butter in a small saucepan and bring to the boil
Once boiling place in candy thermometer and wait for it to register 240 degrees, or until lots of big bubbles form and it turns a light golden brown colour.
Remove from heat and stir in dried fruit, lemon rind, almonds and flour.
Stir until well combined.
Drop small teaspoons of batter on greased proof paper leaving room between each spoonful.
Flatten each cookie with a fork dipped in milk (very helpful)
Bake for 8 minutes or until they look golden and bubbly.
Remove and immediately shape with a round greased cookie cutter.
When cookie rounds are firm, remove from sheet and cool completly.
Coat back of each cookie with the melted chocolate and butter. Leave to set (fridge works really well!)
Makes about 14-16
Note: I have changed a few ingredients, original recipe uses 4oz ground candied orange peel instead of lemon zest and dried fruit.